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Welsh LAs may have to pay extra £30m a year on waste services

Local authorities in Wales could face costs of an extra £30m a year for delivering their waste services if the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) changes its recycling target to 70% by 2025, according to the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA).

If a new waste measure which gives WAG powers to increase the target recycling rate for Wales to 70% from 50% is implemented, local authorities will be facing significantly higher bills to treat and recycle the extra waste collected.

The £30m figure is apparently calculated by WAG’s own consultants, which believe a 70% target would cost councils £148m in 2014-15, £156m in 2016-17 and £190m in 2024-25. Councils may also face penalties for failing to meet imposed targets.

WLGA is urging WAG to reject the proposed targets at a time of considerable financial pressure on local authorities.

WLGA environment spokesperson Cllr Aled Roberts said: “The cost of achieving an imposed 70% target will raise serious issues for local authorities which could be compounded by the imposition of financial penalties if targets are missed.

“Ultimately, the costs of achieving waste targets have to be weighed against paying for teachers in our schools and social care for our most vulnerable citizens. The Assembly should not be using its legislative powers to impose requirements that cannot be funded or to impose penalties on local authorities for failing to meet targets through no fault of their own.”

Currently, Wales is hitting a recycling rate of 40%.

WAG is meeting on 2 November to give its final consideration to the measure, which is required by the European Directive. A spokesperson said:“As we stated in our waste strategy Towards Zero Waste last June, our ambition is for Wales to recycle 70 per cent of its waste by 2025. We worked closely with WLGA members to set this target, so they will be aware that the implication that 70% is an immediate target is incorrect.

“There are good reasons behind this figure – economic as well as environmental. 70% recycling is more cost-effective than lower recycling, because recycling is cheaper than landfilling and because it means we will avoid expensive landfill taxes and fines. In addition the more local authorities recycle the greater their opportunity to make money from selling valuable materials such as metals.”

WAG recently rejected a proposed amendment to waive penalties if the implementation of the targets proved to be unaffordable.

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